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Home Builders Turning Positive

Hoping that the worst is behind them and that housing is poised for a rebound, the nation's home builders said their confidence level is stabilizing and holding relatively steady after tanking last year.

The monthly gauge of builder confidence compiled by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo Bank registered 32 in December, off just a single point from the prior month, and modestly above a low point of 30 touched in September.

The confidence index "has come off September's low point, and other recent indicators confirm that buying conditions have improved and that demand is stabilizing," said David Seiders, chief economist of the builders' trade group. Buoying builder sentiment, he said, were "improvements in measures of housing affordability, strengthening consumer assessments of home buying conditions and an upswing in applications for mortgages to buy homes. Builders sense that the tide is turning in terms of buyer demand for their product and are feeling somewhat better about the prospects for home sales."

Seiders said stabilizing demand "largely reflects reductions in mortgage interest rates since mid-year, the retreat of energy prices from record highs, and maintenance of solid growth in employment and household income."

"Reductions in home prices and widespread sales incentives offered by builders also have helped to buoy buyer demand," he said.

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